There is ample evidence that today’s so-called and self-proclaimed prophets are truly prophets, but they’re not God’s prophets; they are false prophets.
More than once a person has told me that they either have the gift of prophecy or they know someone who is a self-proclaimed prophet. One recent example was a young lady who was considering marriage with her boyfriend who was battling pornography. At the time that this young woman contacted me she stated that her boyfriend needed help in overcoming his addiction to pornography. She said that someone in her church had prophesied that they were to be husband and wife. This was very troubling to me because the man addicted to pornography was clearly not ready to be married until he overcame this sin. This alleged prophecy was very disturbing to me because the age of the prophets, as with the canon today, has been closed (Heb 1:1-2; Jude 1:3). We already have all the revealed we need today in the Bible. Isn’t that enough!? Why do we need others telling us about “God’s special revelation” or “God’s has a message for you?” This woman was dealing with a prophet…true, but she was a false prophet and not of God! This false prophet insisted its God’s will they be married, despite the young man’s ongoing, unrepentant addiction to pornography.
Who Is a Prophet of God?
This special calling is narrowly defined, and rightly so, as one who had been called by God, someone who speaks for God, and someone who writes out the words of God (as Scripture). My question is, “If God wanted to speak to me, why would use a third party or use someone else?” God has already spoken to me and to you (past tense) and to all of us through the prophets, apostles and Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1-2) which consists of the Bible we have today. Most scholars say that false prophets encourage “a selective lifestyle…and the ability to adapt to the cultural changes” (82), so in this young woman’s church, this “prophet” apparently “enjoyed popular support” because they “represented the theological perspective of [their] contemporaries” (83) in the church and not Scripture.
God’s Word, God’s Will
This false prophet the woman heard from is on dangerous ground, for prophets always spoke for God and those words were recorded in the Bible. The church that loves this false prophet is so deceived that they won’t even receive “help in discerning the true from the false” (85). One big difference is that the true prophets of God were never, ever widely received and embraced by the people. The people would only accept the prophecies of the false prophets and rejected the true prophets God. Everybody in the church loved this prophetess, despite her many failures in prophesying other things that never came true.
Dirty Money and False Prophets
If you look closely, you will find that there is no “adherence to…ethics [or] regulations pertaining to holiness” (since her boyfriend was still steeped in pornography) and that this “prophet” did not see the application of “God’s warnings, judgments, and conditions to the people of God” to live a sanctified, holy life (85). Instead of speaking the “whole counsel of God,” they spoke their own counsel by “advocating a…human response…to fix whatever [appeared] wrong, so as to perpetuate the human power” (86). False prophets always desire and end up with “…success, power, popularity” (85) and “lived and worked for the human ideal” while promoting their own “programs” (86). They are almost always “guardians of the status quo” (87). Clearly, false prophets have ruled out any “change in God’s relation with His people” like their striving for holiness which has “undermined the purposes of God” (87)! This “prophet’s” teaching is truly “a man-centered” ethic “as interpreted by popular conceptions.” The biggest example was the woman’s husband refusing to repent from his addiction to pornography. This false prophet still sad that they’re “good-to-go” and get married immediately. To me, that is a serious red flag!
You might also notice that false prophets base their words on “pleasing humans” because this woman accepted the “prophets” words as true (88) and the woman liked the Prophetes’ “vision.” On the other hand, the true prophets in the Bible “uniformly and urgently warn against trusting in human structures and interpretation” (like the traditions and structure of the office of “prophet” in this woman’s church (94). Moses wrote, “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him” (Duet 18L22). This means we cannot take any self-proclaimed prophet’s as a true “Word from the Lord.”
True or False Prophet?
If this woman prophet really were a prophet from God, she would have pointed out the sin of the man’s unrepentant stance in his refusing to see his addiction to pornography as sin. He said he lived “Under grace.” This “prophet” sees no issue at all, amazingly, and the inherent danger and harm that this would most certainly bring into their marriage. Does this “prophet” believe that their marriage will solve this man’s addiction to pornography? Jeremiah’s test for prophecy is “when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet” (Jer 28:9, ESV), so this lady has already been disqualified. Being a prophet is not like playing baseball where you get three stikes. No, it’s not three strikes and you’re out; it’s one and done…and you’re out!
Speaking for God
When this young lady asked me about this woman’s prophecy over her coming marriage to a boyfriend that is addicted to pornography, I used Jeremiah 28:9 and Deuteronomy 18:22 to see that these verses are prescriptive of God’s authority in prophesying in His name and that the canon has been closed (Jude 1:3; Duet 4:2; Rev 22:18), meaning there is no special or new revelation still being given to mankind today. Sadly she did not accept this as truth. It was really not my counsel but counsel from God Himself as taken from Scripture. These verses were both prescriptive in the sense that they give evidence of whether a prophet is actually speaking the words of God and words from God, but It’s also descriptive in that God has no further need to give us new revelation as we have all the revelation necessary in the written Word of God today (Duet 4:2; Heb 1:1-2; Jude 1:3; Rev 22:18).
I am not saying that God the Holy Spirit is still not illuminating believers with new revelation today, thereby restricting the freedom and sovereignty of God, but He will only do so by illuminating what has already been written in Scripture. Certainly we’ll be learning something new in the Bible, but not God. It’s not new to Him. It will be the Spirit of God and the Word of God that birth the children of God, but any new (to us) revelations are alread there in Scripture. New truths are not found in human experience. God will not use human imaginations, human divination, nor will He use man-centered ethics, popular interpretative conceptions, human schemes, prgamatism, counsel or plans. I prayed that this so-called prophet would come to the realization that prophets of God spoke words that were considered as words God Himself would speak. We must remember the lesson of Aaron’s sons bringing strange fire before the Lord. That’s very dangerous ground to tread upon (Lev 10:1-3). This is ground where even angels fear to tread, so how much more fearful for those who proclaim themselves to be prophets of God and are not.
Vangemeren, A. William. Prophets, the Freedom of God, and Hermeneutics. Westminster Theological Journal, 52.1 (Spring 1990): 79-99.
Kelsey, David. “Proving Doctrine” Kelsey’s Four Questions: Introducing a Potential Means of Critical – Reflection on One’s Own Interpretive Work